Touring Boston

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday, August, 30th Boston, MA

We decided to head in to Boston, MA today. Jared and I have been here a couple of times since Philip went to Boston University. We were a little familiar with the area, but definitely did some more in depth tours today. When we got in to downtown Boston we parked at the parking garage for Boston Commons and then proceeded to walk through Boston Commons over to the Frog Pond.  The Frog Pond is a wading pond that was closed when we arrived due to the cleaning of debris from hurricane Irene.  After checking out the pond we headed over to the Visitor's Center to get some information and maps. While in the Visitor’s Center we decided to do a guided tour of the Freedom Trail. We wanted to check out more around Boston Commons and Beacon Hill first so we decided to come back to the Visitor’s Center later to buy our tickets for the tour.

We headed out of the Visitor’s Center and walked through Boston Commons again over to the Boston Public Gardens.  In the Boston Public Gardens there are Swan boats out on the lake that you can take a ride on. We opted not to go on them and just to walk around.  When we finished up in the gardens we headed out to Cheers.  We didn’t stop in for a drink, but did go in to check out the set bar upstairs and the gift shop, where we bought a pretty cool bottle opener magnet.

When we finished up in Cheers we followed a trail Jared found online that took us through Beacon Hill. Jared really only had the street names for the trail and no other information.  We decided that it was the Black Heritage Trail because some of the houses pointed out were involved in the underground railroad.  Beacon Hill was in fact very hilly and we had quite a workout walking around that area. When we finished up there we headed back to Boston Commons to eat our lunch in the park. We packed sandwiches and had a delightful little lunch in the park.  We sat near the Frog Pond, which was now open for wading. There were many little kids in there having a blast.

When we finished up lunch we headed back to the Visitor’s Center to buy our tickets for the Freedom Trail Tour.  We were able to get on the 12:30pm tour like we wanted and headed over to the meeting spot, where we met our tour guide Eric. There are 19 stops on the Freedom Trail and Eric took us to 12 of them.  The other 6 were farther away and Eric told us a little bit about each one at our last stop.

The Freedom Trail Tour started in Boston Commons, which at one point in time was used for public hangings and today is a park. Next we headed across the street from the Boston Commons to the new State House. The new State House is actually pretty old and was built in 1798. The big gold dome is actually sheathed in copper and then covered by 23 karat gold. During World War II the dome was painted so that it didn’t stand out so much as a target for bombs. Next we hit up the Park Street Church, which dates back to 1809. There are many firsts accredited to this church including the first Sunday school in 1818, the first prison aid in 1824, the first public anti-slavery speech was given here, and "My Country 'Tis of Thee" was sung for the first time here by the church children’s choir.  Right next door to the Park Street Church is the Granary Burying Grounds.  This is the third oldest cemetery in Boston and is the final resting place for some notable Revolutionary War-era patriots.  This includes James Otis (an unsung hero according to Eric, he gave many public speeches on behalf of the colonists until he was banged on the head by a British soldier and suffered brain damage), John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and relatives of Benjamin Franklin.  An interesting piece of information from Eric is that long ago the cemetery would flood and all the grave markers would wash out in to the streets.  The caretakers would then just line up the grave stones wherever so it isn’t very clear who is buried where in the cemetery.

Next on the Freedom Trail we hit up King’s Chapel & Burying Ground.  The King’s Chapel Burying Ground is the oldest burying ground in Boston.  The church is actually built on the corner of the burying grounds on top of graves because in order to insure the presence of the Church of England in America, King James II ordered an Anglican parish to be built in Boston.  Since none of the colonists wanted to sell suitable land for the Church, the King ordered Governor Andros to seize a corner of the burying ground for the Church of England.  Right next to King’s Church is the Old City Hall, which is the site of the first public school the Boston Latin School.  Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams and John Hancock all once attended this school. Eric our guide informed us that Benjamin Franklin dropped out of the school.  The school is still open and running in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood.

We wandered down the street to the next stop, the Old Corner Book Store.  This is one of Boston’s oldest surviving structures and many famous books were published here including The Scarlet Letter and Walden.  The building is now being rented out by a Chipotle.  They were in the process of setting up inside when we went by.  Eric our tour guide was devastated over this and told us that the rent for the building is $18,000 a month.  Right down the street was our next stop the Old South Meeting House. This was the largest building in colonial Boston and is best known as being the spot where the Boston Tea Party began.  They were holding a meeting to protest the tax on tea in the building the night of the Boston Tea Party.  Eric informed us that it was so packed out that people were hanging out of the windows just to fit more people inside.  He said that during the meeting Samuel Adams announced “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!” which was a secret code for many of the men to go out and dress up in Indian head dresses and war pant and then to march down to the harbor where they dumped three shiploads of tea in to it.

Around the corner and down the street a little bit are the Old State House and the site of the Boston Massacre.  From the balcony of the Old State House the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Massachusetts took place.  Eric informed us that now every year on the 4th of July the Declaration of Independence is read from that same balcony.  Also, at the bicentennial Boston invited the Queen of England to attend the reading and they presented her with a check for $33,000 which is the taxes that were due on the tea that was dumped in to the harbor at the Boston Tea Party.  That is the actual amount of taxes that was due at the time without interest, which is definitely a lot of money for back then.  Eric said that the Queen never cashed the check.  Right in front of the Old State House is the site of the Boston Massacre as Samuel Adams labeled it.  Actually 5 people died and 8 people were injured, which is not quite a massacre, but Samuel Adams wanted to make it sound grander so that more colonists would join the cause in fighting against England.

Around the corner from there we arrived at the last two stops on our guided tour, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market.  Faneuil Hall is a market place on the first floor and a meeting hall on the second floor where many Boston City debates are held.  When it was first built it did not have as many stories as it does today, it was expanded in 1806.  The funding for the building came from Peter Faneuil, which is where the building received its name.  Eric informed us that Peter Faneuil had the building built because he wanted a building named after himself, he succeeded.  Behind Faneuil Hall is Quincy Market, which is full of places to get food and little shops.  We walked around Quincy Market for a little bit and did some shopping.

When we finished up with our shopping we headed in to the Black Rose for a beer.  Jared and Jim both got the Sam Adams Red Brick, which according to the information we have it is only served on tap in a couple of Boston bars.  While in the Boston Rose we chatted with the bartender who is from Ireland and has been here working in the Black Rose for 5 years.  Jim informed her that we are collection bottle openers from the places we go, so she promptly gave us her Boston Red Sox bottle opener.  I was kind of against taking a Boston Red Sox bottle opener, but it was free and cool that she gave it to us so we accepted it.

When we finished up our beers we headed to the water and took a ferry over to Charleston to check out the USS Constitution in the Charleston Navy Yard.  This is a stop on the Freedom Trail and it was free to go on the boat and check it out.  The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.  There were some Navy Sailors aboard the ship to answer any questions we might have had.  We could have walked up to the Bunker Hill Monument in Charleston, but we decided not to.

When we finished up at the USS Constitution we walked over the Charleston Bridge back in to North End to continue on the Freedom Trail.  The first stop when we got back was Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, which is Boston’s second oldest burying ground.  When we finished up in the burying grounds we headed to the Old North Church, which is where Robert Newman signaled with lanterns the approach of the British regulars “One if by land, and two, if by sea.”  We were able to go in to the church to check it out.  They had little boxes for families to sit in instead of pews straight across. We sat in a box to get a feel for the church.  The church seemed to still be in use with current hymn numbers up on the board.  When we finished up with the church we walked through Paul Revere Mall and headed for Paul Revere’s house.  It was just closing up so we weren’t able to tour it.  The house was built around 1680 and is the oldest building in downtown Boston. 

After finishing up with the Freedom Trail we decided to pick a place to eat dinner.  We decided on ye olde Union Oyster House.  We all enjoyed our dinners even though there was a guy doing some extensive sneezing on the other side of the wall. Our entire section was hysterical.  When we finished up dinner we walked back to Quincy Market to check out Orvis for Jim.  Then we walked back to the car and drove back to the campground.  We were all exhausted from our full day of walking around.  The girls went to bed immediately and the boys figured out where to park the Bookhamer car in Boston during the rest of our trip.

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Bridie on

Looks like you had a busy day in Boston

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